Mental health problems are much more common than people realize. On average, about one in five American adults experience mental health issues. Suicide accounts for the loss of more than 41,000 U.S. lives every year, double the number of deaths due to homicide. Mental health issues can affect everyone, from young children to the elderly.
Many people live with mental health problems all their lives without seeking help, letting it lead to unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, and even suicide. If you know someone with signs of a mental health problem, holding an intervention may be the only way to convince him or her to get professional help before it’s too late.
Prevention And Early Intervention for Mental Health Disorders
Mental health issues can quickly escalate into tragedies. Sufferers of mental illnesses mistakenly believe that they’re alone in their struggles and don’t reach out for help on their own. Mental issues disrupt sufferers’ entire life, including the way they think, feel, act, function, and relate to others.
If left untreated, a mental illness can be debilitating. Luckily, prevention and early intervention are effective ways to manage a mental health issue before it does too much damage.
The Family Members' Roles in Mental Health Awareness, Prevention & Intervention
Mental health issues often go on for too long or don’t ever receive treatment because they require loved ones to identify the problem and the need for help. It often takes outside help to address mental health issues as a real problem. Similar to how those with severe delusional issues often stop taking their medications because they feel happier or more comfortable in their own world, people with mental illnesses can’t be trusted to seek solutions to problems on their own.
Preventing mental health issues requires investing in early intervention programs and services at the earliest signs of a problem. Studies show that many people who develop mental health disorders show symptoms by the age of 14. Waiting too long to take action to help a mental issue in your child can lead to crisis situations such as trouble with the law, dropping out of school, involvement with drugs, or suicide.
Recognizing the Signs of Mental Illness in a Family Member
Identify A Mental Health Problem Early
It’s up to you to identify a mental health problem as early as possible for your loved one’s best chances at leading a normal, happy life. There are four main categories that provide a framework for identifying mental health problems:
More than just occasional sadness, and even more than just seasonal depression, prolonged depression is characterized by long stretches of time (months or years) where the depression persists.
Many suffering from mental illness can feel their control and engagement within social circles begin to slowly slip away. Unable to process social interactions, becoming easily embarrassed, or feelings of shame in social circles can cause an individual to further isolate themselves.
Just as a person’s ability to cope with social interactions begins to suffer, so does their ability to cope with daily activities. As a mental health illness grows in its early stages, the individual may become unkempt, neglect personal hygiene, or seem to become lazy or not care about their appearance. Don’t mistake a family member’s struggles and frustrations as apathy or lethargy.
What Are The Types of Mental Health Disorders?
The World Health Organization has an extensive list of mental illnesses classified as serious. Serious mental health problems have a negative impact on overall quality of life, and often lead to homelessness or incarceration. Severe mental illnesses are fairly rare. Mental healthcare professionals can treat the majority of issues before they get out of control. Here are some of the most common mental health issues affecting Americans:
Mood Disorders can also be called “Affective disorders” and are generally any disorder “affecting” your overall daily mood and mood-related functions. Mood disorders are considered highly disruptive to an individual’s daily life, and those suffering from mood disorders are more likely to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to cope.
- Anxiety Disorders
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Bipolar I Disorder
- Bipolar II Disorder
- Cyclothymic Disorders (similar to bipolar disorder, but often less severe)
- Persistent Depressive Disorder
- Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
The types of eating disorders — as of 2019 — include recent 2018 changes to the “DSM-V” (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fifth edition).
- Binge-Eating Disorder
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Other Types of Eating Disorders
Sleeping Disorders — Included in the DSM-V — are as follows:
- Kleine Levin Syndrome
- Obstuctive Sleep Apnea Hyopnea Syndrome
- Primary Central Sleep Apnea
- Primary Alveolar Hypoventilation
- Rapid Eye Movement Behavior Disorder
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder
- Disorder of Arousal (Sleepwalking Disorder & Sleep Terror Disorders)
- Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder
Suspicious/Paranoid Personality Disorders:
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Schizoid personality disorder
- Schizotypal personality disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)
Emotional/Impulsive Personality Disorders:
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
Anxious Personality Disorders:
- Avoidant (or anxious) personality disorder
- Dependent personality disorder
- Obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCDP)
Characterized by fear and persistent panic, anxiety disorders are one of the more common types of undiagnosed mental health disorders.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Specific Phobias
Acording to DSM-V Attention Deficit Disorders are currently diagnosed as 3 different types:
Breaking The Social Stigma With Professional Mental Health Help
Too often, sufferers of mental illnesses don’t seek help because of a fear of being labeled as “crazy”. The perpetual negative stigma surrounding mental illness presents a significant barrier that prevents people from obtaining the proper treatment for mental illness. This social stigma leads to feelings of shame and denial, exacerbating the problem rather than fixing it. The World Health Organization strives to standardize mental illness treatment and facilitate further research in the field. These efforts have taken incredible strides toward reducing the stigma of mental illness and boosting awareness for a problem that affects many Americans today.
Once you decide to hold an intervention for someone concerning his or her mental health problem, seek professional assistance from Family First Intervention. Depending on the severity of your loved one’s mental illness, he or she could become violent and refuse to consider treatment. Intervention without a specialist’s help can be dangerous. The most effective mental health interventions use the help of a professional who knows when and how to hold one, what to say, and how to provide the appropriate care.
Rehearse The Intervention And Show Support
The more prepared you are for the big day, the more successful it will be. Emotions can run high during a mental health intervention. Keep yourself and your family from getting caught in the moment by preparing a script and sticking to it. Rehearse the intervention with a professional who can act the part of the loved one, and strategize what you’ll say if he or she responds a certain way. Write letters to your loved one in advance, addressing the person with love and concern.
One of the most important things you can do to help your loved one during an intervention is expressing your love and support for him or her. Friends and loved ones make a big difference in how a person responds to treatment. Reach out to let your friend or loved one know you’re there to help. Share facts about mental health and help reduce the stigmas against it. Treat the person with respect, and never define him or her by a mental illness diagnosis.
Know When To Seek A Mental Health Intervention
As soon as you suspect a mental illness or health problem in a loved one, seek help from a professional interventionist right away. The longer you wait to address a mental health problem, the more psychological damage it can cause. An interventionist will help you know what to say to your loved one during an intervention, treatments to recommend, and how to avoid becoming angry or overly emotional during the process.
If a mental health problem has already been affecting someone for a long period of time, it’s likely too late for early intervention. At this point, your loved one may have already lost the ability to care for his or herself, learn, work, communicate, and have successful personal relationships. When a mental health problem significantly interferes with a person’s daily life activities, known as “serious functional impairment”, he or she needs treatment.
Promise Yourself & Your Family You'll Follow Through
The road to recovery from a serious or minor mental health issue can be long and hard, but it’s certainly possible. When people seek professional help and treatment for mental illnesses, including special therapies and ongoing wellness plans, they can improve their social-emotional well-being, leading to increased productivity, improved quality of life, and better all-around quality of life.
Once you convince someone to seek help for a mental health problem, your job isn’t done. Follow up with your loved one, asking how he or she is doing with therapy. Ask what milestones, trials, and tribulations he or she is facing and what you can do to help. Sometimes knowing someone else cares about his or her well-being is enough to encourage sufferers of mental health issues to continue on the path to recovery—no matter how difficult it is.
As a family member of your loved one, you are a huge influence in the intervention process. Learn how different family roles come into play during the intervention.
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